Party Wall Act 1996
The Party Wall Act was put into action on 1st July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales. The Act provides an outline for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
Anyone who is planning to carry out building works of the kind described within the Act, must give notice to their neighbours. This Act applies to Crown, Government and Local Authority owned property.
What is a Party Wall?
A wall is a ‘party wall’ if it across the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners.
A wall is a ‘party fence wall’ if it’s not part of a building and is across the building line between lands of different owners and is used to separate the land e.g. masonry garden wall. This does not include a timber fence or hedge.
The Act provides a building owner, who would like to carry out various sorts of works to an existing party wall, with additional rights going beyond ordinary common law rights. Section 2 of the Act lists what can be done. The most commonly used rights are:
- to repair a party wall
- to insert a damp proof course
- to underpin the whole thickness of the party wall
- to cut into the party wall to take the bearing of a beam
- to raise the height of a party wall
- to extend a party wall downwards
- to demolish and re-build the party wall
- to cut off projections from a party wall
How do i inform my neighbour(s)?
It is always best to discuss your building work plans with your neighbour(s) before you (or your professional adviser) gives notices in writing. Whilst there is no official form for giving a notice under the Act, your notice should include the following details:
- your own name and address
- the address of the property with the proposed works
- a full description of the proposed works
- when you propose to start the works
The notice must be dated, and it is advisable to include a clear statement that it is a notice under the provisions of the Act.
You need serve the notice at least two months before the planned start date of the building works. The notice is only valid for a year, so don’t serve notice too long in advance from your proposed start date.
What if my neighbour(s) dissent to the works?
A person who receives notice about intended works may:
- give their consent in writing
- refuse to consent to the building works
- do nothing
Hiring a surveyor will help with any disputes between the building owner and adjoining owner. The
surveyor will create a binding document known as a Party Wall Award. This document will outline the following:
- the works to be carried out
- will state when and how the works will be carried out
- specifies any additional works required
- often contains a record of condition (schedule of condition) of the neighbouring property before the works commence
- will allow access for the surveyors to inspect the works if necessary
Usually the building owner will pay all costs associated with the award, including the adjoining owners’ surveyor fees.